Barley begins to ripen in the late summer and early autumn. In olden times, barley was the staple for most of the population in Japan, and it was only the wealthy that ate white or “polished” rice, which has the chewy husk removed. Nowadays barley is still consumed, but not on the levels it once was. Barley is high in vitamin B1 (thiamine), an essential vitamin to aid sensory, motor and developmental functions. In Japan, barley is linked to a famous story about Beri Beri disease, a crippling and degenerative disease that peeked during the turn of the century in Japan. As naval physician Kanehiro Takaki discovered, the source of the deficiency was the white-rice heavy urban diet, which lacked the essential vitamin B1. No surprisingly, Beri Beri was not very present in the countryside, where the rural poor ate a combination of millet, barley and brown rice, which retain their protein-rich husks. (Serves 2-3)
¾ cup uncooked short-grain white rice
¼ cup uncooked barley
1 ¼ cups water
Small saucepan and lid
1. Rinse the rice and barley in the saucepan a few times with running water to remove surface starches and prevent clumping, yielding a clean, fresh taste. Drain. Add 1 ¼ cups water, and cover with lid.
2. Bring the barley-rice to a boil, and then reduce heat. Cook 30 minutes or until tender and the surface is matte. Fluff and serve.